October 29, 2018

Halloween and the Legend of the Jack-O-Lantern (one version)*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Folks liked this so much it is posted every year for Halloween. Fun to read to the kids.
Jack-O-Lantern      en.wikipediacommons.org


By Larry Peterson

Long ago in Ireland, the land of shamrocks, leprechauns, soft winds and smiles, there lived a man named  Jack. Jack was quite lazy and did not like to work. But he had the gift of "blarney" and could talk the peat off the moss. 

He would tell wondrous tales about his adventures as a world traveler and the people in his village would be held spellbound by his golden tongue. Alas, Jack outsmarted himself when he stole money from the townsfolk. He thought that they were not very smart and would never find out. But they did find out and began chasing him down the streets of the village.

 As Jack ran down the road as fast as he could he rounded a bend and ran smack into the devil. The devil smiled at Jack and told him it was time for him to die and that he was there to take his soul. Jack quickly convinced the devil that if he would let him go and promise to never take his soul he would give him all the souls of the folks who were chasing him. "And how do you plan to do that, Jack?" the devil asked.

"Well now, all ye have ta do is turn ye-self into a pot of gold coins. Then I will give the coins to the people and you will be in all of their pockets. They will be yours."

Since many souls were better than only one, the devil readily agreed and turned himself into a pot of gold coins. Jack gave the coins to all the people and they went away smiling never realizing that they had given themselves to the devil in return for money.

So Jack lived on, grew old and, like all mortal men, finally died. His life had been so sinful on earth that he could not get into heaven and since the devil could not take his soul, he could not get into hell. He had nowhere to go. He asked the devil how he was supposed to see because he was in complete darkness. The devil laughed and tossed Jack a burning ember from the fires of hell, an ember that would never burn out.

Jack, using the ember to guide his way, found a pumpkin patch (some say it was turnips) and carved out a pumpkin. He put the ember inside and began carrying it around so he could see where he was going. To this day he wanders the earth seeking a resting place. And that is why he is known as "Jack-O'-Lantern" or "Jack of the Lantern".

HAPPY HALLOWEEN


                       copyright©Larry Peterson 2015,2016,2017,2018

October 17, 2018

On the Fifth Anniversary of her Death; Remembering the "Prison Angel"; Mother Antonia Brenner

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Remembering a future saint: Mother Antonia Brenner aka The "Prison Angel"



Mother Antonia Brenner praying with convict at La Mesa Prison     articles-latimes .com

On October 17, 2013, the world lost a remarkable woman. She was truly, a Prison Angel

This is a love story. No, it is not about romantic love. Rather, it is about the love of
Christ exploding in the soul of a woman who ran with her God-given gift and did her best to shower it upon some of the meanest and worst criminals in Mexico.

This is about Mother Antonia Brenner, who was born in Beverly Hills, CA, was married and divorced twice, had seven children and ultimately became known as the "Prison Angel" of La Mesa Prison, the worst and most dangerous prison in all of Mexico.  Mother Antonia died five years ago on October 17. On the anniversary of her passing, I just thought I would remember her with a few words.

 Mary Clarke was born in Beverly Hills, Calif.on December 1, 1926. Her dad, Joe Clarke, was a successful businessman and Mary and her two siblings grew up surrounded with affluence and the glitz of the movie world. One thing was certain about Papa Joe. No matter how good life was for his family he made sure his kids were always taught to help the less fortunate. The desire to help others would blossom in Mary and was one day destined to explode. However, before the "explosion" Mary embarked on a circuitous life journey.

Mary married at 18 and had three children. The first died shortly after birth. That marriage ended in divorce and then Mary married again. The wedding took place in Las Vegas and it was to a man named Carl Brenner. She and Carl had five children together but ultimately, that marriage also ended in divorce. Mary had somehow distanced herself from her strict Catholic upbringing. No matter, it seems that the Holy Spirit had his eye on Mary Clarke her entire life. It was time for Him to shower His grace on His daughter.

Mary became more and more involved in charity work and has her seven children got older she began to visit La Mesa Penitentiary to deliver donations such as food, medicine, and clothing to the prisoners. The plight of the prisoners at La Mesa began to impact her greatly and as time went by her growing compassion and love of neighbor would become focused on these people. They would become her specialty, her ministry, her purpose in life.

In 1977, after her kids were grown and her second divorce was final, Mary gave away her expensive belongings, moved out of her home in Ventura and headed to La Mesa. She had received permission to move there. Her new home was to be a 10' by 10' cell. She would live as any other inmate, sleeping in her concrete cell and having only cold water and prison food. The amenities in her room included a Crucifix on the wall, a Bible and Spanish dictionary nearby and a hard, prison bed. In the morning she lined up with the other prisoners for roll call. This was to be her home for the next thirty years.

The story of how this twice divorced woman and mother of seven kids from two marriages was accepted by the Catholic Church as a Sister and founder of a new order can be found at the links provided. Suffice it to say that as time went by Sister Antonia became "La Mama" (Mother Antonia) aka The Prison Angel,  

Mother Antoni© Brenner praying with prisoners.. courtesy eudistssisters.org


She walked freely among the drug traffickers, thieves, murderers, rapists, and others touching cheeks and offering prayers. Many of these people were among the most violent and desperate of men. Yet she happily walked with them and comforted and consoled them and held their heads between her hands as they were dying. 

Mother Antonia Brenner truly saw the face of Christ in each and every prisoner she came in contact with. She loved them all. Why else would hardened criminals, some who had never loved or been loved,  call the diminutive woman who hailed from Beverly Hills, "La Mama"? They loved her in return.

I believe that one day Mother Antonia Brenner will be canonized a saint and inducted into the "Catholic Hall of Fame". She was an example for each and every one of us showing us how to selflessly "love our neighbor" no matter who they might be. 

N.B. Mother Antonia founded the order known as The Eudist Servants of the 11th Hour. The word, Eudist, is taken from St. John Eudes, a 17th-century priest, and founder of the Eudists Order and the Order of Our Lady of Charity. The 11th Hour indicates that the Eudists sisters accept women in life having a second calling. They must be at least 45 years-old to enter the order.

                                             ©Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

    October 14, 2018

    Motherhood---One of God’s greatest gifts is the Instinctive Love of a Mother for her Child…no Matter what their Age.

    IT MAKES SENSE TO ME


    Mom and Baby at Beach     public domain

    By Larry Peterson


    “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
    Abraham Lincoln

    What follows took place over a period of a few minutes.
     
    The man presented an imposing figure. He was dressed in his Air Force uniform which had a crowd of ribbons on the left breast which covered his heart. He stood, paused and then stepped from his pew. Walking purposefully, he moved and strode up the four steps into the sanctuary. He walked over to the ambo, turned and looked out at the people now before him. He grabbed each side of the ambo, and each of his hands squeezed it tightly.

    He turned his head left and peered downward. In the center aisle at the foot of the altar were the remains of his dad. The middle-aged man, a disciplined officer in the United States Air Force, shook his head, pursed his lips, and looked out at those before him and tried to speak. He did not succeed. Instead, what came from within him were soft, quiet sobs.

    There was a woman sitting in the first pew. Stepping from the pew she calmly walked up the sanctuary steps and over to the sobbing man. She sidled up to him and leaned into his side. Then ever so softly, she leaned her head against his shoulder. He turned and looked down at her. She turned and looked up at him. She extended her arm in back of him and rubbed his back. After several moments, she smiled at him and headed back to her pew.

    It had been a spontaneous moment in time as the natural love of a mom for her child compelled her to rescue him. There was no thought about it. No, it was instinctive, a God-given trait that is instilled in mothers. It is a powerful love that only exists between a mother and her child. How powerful that love is that it can quickly calm a professional military officer who had lost his composure because of the death of his dad.

    He had once again become a little boy. Mommy, ignoring the pain of her own personal heartache, instinctively knew it and went to him, embraced him and comforted him and made it “all better.” And therein lies the magnificence of one of God’s greatest gifts, the love of a mom for her child, no matter what their age. It is a beautiful thing.

    The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a Mother.
    -St. Therese of Lisieux


    Copyright Larry Peterson 2018

    October 7, 2018

    Alzheimer’s Disease—The Ultimate Enemy of the Lifelong Love Story


    Alzheimer’s Disease—The Ultimate Enemy of the Lifelong Love Story

    By Larry Peterson

    If you and your spouse have lived within a marriage that has been filled with an unconditional, unselfish, love for each other, then you have been truly blessed. Giving of oneself to another “no matter what,” creates a connection that can never be broken, and it leaves behind a journey that has been sheathed with laughter, joy, comfort, and compassion powered by that love.

    This was God’s plan, and many have embraced it and lived it and reaped the rewards of truly being ONE. Loving someone more than yourself can be a hard thing to do and many have tried but failed. But far more have tried and succeeded by emptying themselves for each other.

    I have two dear friends, better yet I shall call them the BEST friends anyone could ever have. Their names are Mike and Roberta, and we met 35 years ago when our sons were playing youth baseball. Their friendship was unconditional, unquestioned, and given freely, without reservation. They were unhesitatingly there for my family and later, after my wife, Loretta had passed, for me.

    As is the way of things time never waits for anyone and keeps moving forward.  Now Roberta  looks at the dying person in the bed before her and realizes that part of herself is lying there too. Suddenly their lives together scroll before her. The courtship, the wedding, the birth of their child, the laughter, the good times and the bad, the crying, and so forth. This is when having God in your life is crucial. Hope springs eternal and therein lies the truth of the power of faith.

    My friend, Mike, was raised in an orphanage in Philadelphia. Long ago, his mother dropped him off in front of the place on a snowy, Christmas Eve. She left him standing there with a note pinned to his jacket. He was four years old. When he turned eighteen, he was dismissed from the orphanage, given a few bucks, and offered “best wishes and God’s blessings.”  

    He walked away from that place and immediately joined the United States Marine Corp. From that day forward, Mike, who was a trucker, has walked, talked and looked like a Marine. Most of all he has loved his family and his country as completely as he could.

    Roberta, who was a florist, was one of three sisters and was also from Philadelphia. Her life looks like different chapters in a novel whose genre could be considered “urban legend melodrama.” She was one of three sisters and was abused as a child. She lost her first husband to diabetes when she was thirty-one years old. Her father, an alcoholic, was burned over 75% of his body and she cared for him until he recovered and could somewhat function on his own.

    Then she turned to alcohol which ultimately led her to Alcoholics Anonymous. Mike was also attending AA, and that is where they met. He became her sponsor, and he was relentless in his quest to get her to stop drinking. She eventually did, and they got married. (Neither of them has had a drink in over 50 years).

    A half-century of climbing and struggling down into the valleys and over the mountains of the journey called “life” has passed. They never wavered, stood tall, and together stared down and conquered all obstacles in their path. They raised a son who grew up to be the chief pilot for a well-known airline. Mike and Roberta are a living definition of the word, marriage.

    One more challenge stands before them. The only problem is, this time only one of them can confront the challenge. And, upon completing that challenge, that person will be alone.

    Mike has been attacked by the cruel demon known as Alzheimer's disease.  It began erasing his memory some years ago, and it has relentlessly worked its evil 24/7. Today Mike is in a “memory care unit” inside a nursing home. He remembers nothing yet his face lights up and he smiles ear to ear when his dear Roberta walks into the room. He thinks she is his “mommy.” Except she is not.  He also has lost the ability to swallow and can no longer eat or drink.

    His lover and best friend is now faced with the task of watching him leave her forever. She has asked Hospice to keep him pain free and as comfortable as possible. The journey of the long goodbye has reached the last turn before arriving at the station. All that Roberta can do is embrace what was and know that his spirit will always be with her. Then she can take comfort in knowing that one day, holding hands, they will stand together again.

    May God bless and have mercy on all Alzheimer’s victims and their families.


    copyright©Larry Peterson 2018